Real-time raster projection for web maps

Real-time raster projection for web maps

The virtual globe is the default visualization for Digital Earth applications, but it can only show one half of the Earth. This article introduces user-adjustable, on-the-fly projection of georeferenced raster images for web mapping and web GIS applications. This technique allows users to center a map on arbitrary locations, while still seeing the entire Earth surface. Modern web mapping libraries can apply map projection transformations to vector data in the browser, but they do not currently support the projection of raster images at interactive frame rates. We use the cross-platform WebGL (Web Graphics Library) graphics pipeline for hardware-accelerated projection of raster data in web browsers. Two algorithmic techniques – inverse per-fragment projection, and combined forward per-triangle and inverse per-fragment projection – for georeferenced raster imagery are documented. The resulting raster maps combine the ease of use and flexibility of interactive virtual globes with the ability to show the entire Earth. The adjustable projection of raster imagery allows users to observe global phenomena that are difficult to visualize on virtual globes or traditional maps with static projections.

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